If patrons run into each other, there will be blood spilled. If someone doesn't get to a stall on time, there will be urine on the floor. And oh yes -- there will be poop. The concept really isn't that hard to grasp.
Men's Room Mayhem (Android, iPhone, PlayStation Vita [reviewed])
Release Date: May 23, 2013
MSRP: $0.99 (Android) / $1.39 (PlayStation Vita)
Men's Room Mayhem feels like an amalgamation of Diner Dash and Flight Control, but it's not quite as good as either one of them. Essentially, you control the fate of restroom patrons one at a time as they enter the bathroom to relieve themselves, tracing lines on the Vita's screen to chart their course. Some have a drop of urine over their heads -- you'll trace them to the urinals. Some have toilet paper icons -- you'll trace them to a stall.
After they do the business, you'll have the option to trace them to the sink to wash their hands, and then trace them to the exit. If two characters collide, they'll fight, and you'll have to touch them on the screen to break it up -- six fights and it's game over. If you space out your patrons, you'll earn an "etiquette" bonus. That's about it, really. You do that over and over in a time-based fashion, and attempt to complete certain challenge objectives such as "complete two rounds without one fight" as you work towards unlocking new stages.
It works surprisingly well and the unique visuals are charming enough, especially on the Vita's large, vibrant OLED screen. I had little trouble getting patrons to do what I wanted them to do, and the premise is simple enough to pick it up almost instantly. Objectives are extremely clear, and don't leave you in the dark as to what you need to do next.
But unlike Diner Dash (which was surprisingly deep), new concepts aren't constantly thrown at you rapid fire to keep you on your toes -- they're drip-fed to you at a snail's pace. Essentially, each map will give you a new mechanic to deal with (like Old Men who take longer to do the deed), but there really isn't a whole lot of strategy other than the core concept of "make sure patrons don't run into each other."
The challenge system, which could have served as a great way to nudge you along, is poorly implemented. Simply put, if you complete all three given objectives in a round, they don't reset. That's right, you just keep doing wave after wave on each map until you get bored, and only then do the challenges refresh. It just doesn't make any sense at all, as it forces you to constantly play missions with no real objectives just for the sake of elongating the game.
As you progress through each round wave by wave with no real objectives, the grind of the game starts to set in. It's an odd setup that basically betrays every iOS challenge based game since Jetpack Joyride, which normally follow the basic premise of constantly refreshing goals to keep you interested and engaged.
Although it features a pretty lengthy campaign and an uninspired time attack mode, Mayhem can be played in short spurts as you complete all three objectives one round at a time. Considering the lack of variety, it's probably better if you experience it that way. Literally, this a game you could play on the toilet.
Men's Room Mayhem has a great premise that expands upon the initial concepts of Flight Control, but the monotony quickly sets in due to poor pacing and a lack of mode variety. With a few simple tweaks, it could be a true "must have" on the Vita marketplace -- mostly given its competitive mobile pricing. But as it stands, don't go in expecting much more than a repetitive, yet occasionally fun time waster.
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